The Open Beta Arrives
The Fighter Collection and Eagle Dynamics have announced they are offering the much anticipated second package in the DCS series for digital download pre-purchase. Pre-paying not only guarantees you a digital copy of DCS: A-10C Warthog once it is released for sale, but also gives you access to pre-release Beta versions and to the Beta forums to give feedback to the developers and share findings with other members of the Beta test team. As a huge fan of the first DCS product — Black Shark — it was a no-brainer to jump on this rare and golden opportunity and I am glad I did.
The download was straight-forward but slow: I was just one of a bunch of folks all trying to download the 4.3 GB install files at the same time and it ended up taking all night to download.
A-10C Warthog is a DirectX 9 game, so before starting the installation, go download and install the Microsoft DirectX 9.0c Redist package for June 2010. Yes, it installs just fine on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, 32-bit or 64-bit. Yes, DirectX 11 is supposed to be backwards-compatibile with DirectX 9 but, from personal experience, no DX9 = no sound, and the Warthog’s engines and cannon are marvels to be heard.
When you install, you get an option to add the 32-bit files. Come again? 64-bit is the default install and installing the 32-bit binaries is optional. Is DCS: A-10C Warthog the first 64-bit native combat flight sim? I’m not sure, but I don’t know of any others. Be sure and right click on the “setup.exe” file and then “Run as administrator”.
A note of thanks to Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth for his screenshot help in this article.
The launcher screen of the single player game is simple, slick, and sexy, giving me goose bumps every time I see it. The “menu wheel” from Black Shark is gone, but the straight list layout is certainly quite easy to navigate.
Instant Action is similar to Black Shark’s “Quick Start” in that you can dive right into a mission but offers the player a list of missions with various difficulties to pick from rather than just one canned scenario.
Create Fast Mission takes it a step further by allowing the player to customize their experience. Players can select a home country, starting location (in air, on runway, or on ramp), difficulty level, battleground location, and even the weather and time of day. Random options mix it up while an advanced mode offers a whole screen of options to further tweak the experience. It’s kind of like a “lite” version of the Mission Editor.
The Training experience has undergone a major and much needed overhaul. Gone are the passive hands-off experiences that were more like a training video than a flight lesson. A-10C Warthog has hands-on, immersive interactive training missions guided by a helpful and clear-spoken instructor. When needed, glowing cues highlight cockpit buttons and switches that need attention and the instructor patiently walks you through all the required steps, waiting for you to complete them at your own pace. The lessons themselves are well thought out and will help virtual pilots climb the inevitable learning curve the A-10C Warthog and all its glorious systems present.